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Bye-Bye, Jumping Frogs:

On Friday, November 4, 2005, the L.A. Times published two articles on budget cut plans by our purchased legislators.

One is the continuation of plans to rollback various protections for endangered species. The latest was a bill passed by the House of Representatives to eliminate a federally protected critical habitat of 150 million acres of largely undeveloped land. The second article concerned a Senate bill to cut $35 billion over five years by trimming the rolls of recipients receiving Medicaid benefits, food stamps and farm subsidies. The bill also slipped in authorization to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife refuge. So the Bush administration continues its assault on endangered species both natural and human. To hell with the environment and its beauties, and to hell with Medicare and Medicaid. When will this meanness and hostility to the wonders of the earth end? Apparently, not until 2008. By then the damage will be incalculable.

The first bill – the removal of protection of 150 million acres may cause California’s fabled red-legged frog to lose 82 percent of its habitat. Is this a loss to humanity? Only if you believe our children and future generations should have the joys of seeing creatures that were once abundant and are now rapidly disappearing. Only if you believe economics trumps ecology. Profits today. Posterity be damned.

Mark Twain’s “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” may soon become a quaint reminder of a day when people lived in relative harmony with their surroundings and took pleasure in creation rather than simply exploiting and eliminating it.

The second bill is all the more amazing when you realize that while Senate Republicans are pushing to cut Medicaid benefits and food stamps, they are continuing to push for more tax cuts for the rich. Hello, America. Is anyone aware of the nastiness and uncompassionate behavior of these corporate subsidized legislators?

At this point, I would like to slip in a book recommendation which is, I believe, relevant to all this. After a long silence, we have a new Kurt Vonnegut book available, A Man Without a Country. The title certainly sums up how many of us feel when we have daily reminders that the people supposedly representing the American people, in reality represent only the wealthy folks who purchased their elections. A book reviewer in Harpers (Oct. 2005), John Leonard, speaks of Vonnegut’s despair with his country’s “globocop belligerence, its contempt for civil liberties, and its holy war on the poor.” Leonard then quotes one of Vonnegut’s more bleak assessments of our times: “Mobilize the reserves! Privatize public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephones! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion – dollar missile shield! F. habeas corpus and the Sierra Club…”So, we either sit back and observe our own demise at the hands of our own government or we get angry. The Bush administration’s adversarial attitude towards poverty and environmental sanity is beyond simple meanness and ignorance; it is evil and dangerous.

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